In recent months I have been up to my neck in change. New job for a start. But I also enrolled on a few courses, one of which is coming to a close next week. So now I have a moment to breathe here’s my thoughts on the Squared Online Digital Marketing course.

First of all, this article isn’t going to give you content from the course, or teach you anything about marketing. But it is going to hopefully give you some idea of what Squared is all about, and it gives me a chance to absorb what has happened over the last 5 months.

The Beginning

On October 23rd 2016, I made two bold, and in hindsight perhaps slightly fool hardy decisions. I quit my well paid job that had been causing me immeasurable stress. Then literally 5 minutes later enrolled on an expensive course in an industry I knew very little about. OK I’ll be honest, I knew nothing about Digital Marketing!

It was a change that was long overdue, and Mrs J was the most supportive, encouraging and wonderful wife. She helped me reason through it, pushed me to make the right choice which in this case was a really tough choice, and jump into the unknown. She’s a star!

Squared Online – The Course

If you’ve never heard of Squared Online then let me give you the marketing bumf (yes bumf is a word). A few years ago Google started running an in-house course called Squared. It was designed to create ‘Agents of Change’ – leaders who would disrupt industries and push the boundaries of progress in the field of Digital in particular.

So successful was this course that Squared Online became it’s own entity. Still affiliated with Google, but now operating online to much larger numbers, Squared became one of the go-to online courses for Digital Marketing.

They’ve made a really nice job of the online ‘Campus’. Where you track your progress through the course, get involved in forums and discussions or dive into some further reading.

My Journey

Ok, so I think that gets you up to speed. This is where my journey starts.

When I enrolled, I had no idea what marketing was. Like most people, I thought it was just another word for advertising. So I was in for quite a shock. Everything from Data Analytics and Attribution, to creating business plans and launching products. The course is pretty epic in terms of the content.

And marketing is so much more than advertising. Its about finding the real people in the data, and truly connecting with them as a brand. It’s about knowing the customer journey, and enhancing and guiding it at every stage. And It’s about user experience…. it’s about people.

My eyes had been opened to this whole digital world where we could forge genuine connections with people, observe their habits and create a better experience for them.

The Work

A lot of the Squared work is group based. I know for a lot of people the thought of working with groups of strangers is a little nerve racking, well… tell me about it! My first group (the aptly named ‘Magnificent 7’) were made up of already successful and experience marketers, data specialists and business owners. Mean while little old me was a few months away from the unemployment line and still not a clue what marketing actually was. Needless to say I felt sure I had enrolled on the wrong course and was way in over my head!

If you do decide to enrol on Squared Online, and I highly recommend it by the way (spoiler alert), a word of advice. When the group work starts, don’t hang about and wait for someone else to organise a Google hangout. Take the reigns and lead. You simply don’t have time to waste in this course.

Some of your group may well be in a different time zone, or maybe English isn’t their first language. And the different levels of experience make group dynamics really interesting. It pushes you hard. You need to find a balance between being proactive and easy going. And you have to lead the group, but without being pushy.

So was it worth it?

I learned a huge amount about myself on this course. I discovered that even in situations where I am clearly outgunned for experience, knowledge or age, I am a natural leader. And it’s because people make me tick. Finding out who they are, how they work, and getting the best out of them, that’s what it’s all about. I found an enormous strength in myself, that I genuinely didn’t know was there.

So the question is where am I now? When I started the course I was on my way to the back of the line at the job centre. Half way through the course I landed a job, my very first job in the digital marketing world.

It’s taken up a lot of my free time, and felt like a real chore at times. But I’m now coming out the other side, and I can honestly say it’s the best thing I did last year (well combined with leaving my old job!)

So, if you’re reading this because you’re interested in Squared Online, or maybe you’re thinking about a career change. My advice would be DO IT!

Edit: As a final little extra titbit; Squared Online posted a blog about my journey, which you can read here!